The Annunciation

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Graphics by Asp. Paul Lopez, Don Bosco Seminary

God has prepared very well for the coming of His Son. The Incarnation of the Word, Who exists from the very beginning (Jn 1:2), is shaped in a specific human context, bound by the limits of time and space. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul waxes nostalgia with his narrative of how this Incarnation came about, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4, 5)

The mere idea of the mystery of Incarnation has been difficult to grasp. No wonder, it has been a constant source of controversies, and consequently of heresies, in the Church ever since the early years of the Christian community. Nonetheless, this very mystery amazes the Fathers of the Church as this points to God’s abounding mercy and grace revealed in the Incarnation of the Son of God.

One of the leading Church Fathers in the Apologetic stage, Justin Martyr wrote:

“We will prove that we worship him reasonably; for we have learned that he is the Son of the true God Himself, that he holds a second place, and the Spirit of prophecy a third. For this they accuse us of madness, saying that we attribute to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all things; but they are ignorant of the Mystery which lies therein.”[1]

The Church’s fundamental belief in incarnation is an essential theological teaching which we trace all the way from the Nicean Creed. Thus, we believe “in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, generated of the Father, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten not made, the same in nature with the Father by Whom all things were made.”

Both the evangelists Luke and Matthew are in agreement that she is already betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter (Mat 1:18; Lk 1:27). Although they are not yet living together as husband and wife, following the Jewish betrothal custom, they are already as good as ‘married.’

Her life takes an interesting turn when the Angel Gabriel appears before her and reveals to her that because God highly favors her, He has in stored something for her. In St. Luke’s way of narrating this event, the Angel goes straight to the point and tells Mary, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:31-33).

This incredible news conveyed by an angel greatly disorients Mary. She finds herself in a great trouble. In her mind runs concerns in the midst of this, and in her effort to understand, all she is able to do is to ask a question, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Lk) 1:34. The Blessed Mother’s query does not constitute distrust in the face of what has just been announced, on the contrary, it aims to enlighten. This question characterizes the Anselmian dictum which has characterized my whole theological journey: Fides quarens intellectum.

Her obedience to God, her fiat, blossomed into that state of perfect discipleship. Her portrayal in Luke points to this. Furthermore, Luke provides us a concept of what a discipleship is following her example, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice” (Lk. 8:21). In the Gospel rendered by St. John, Mary is shown clearly pointing out what ought to be the disposition before her Son, “Do what he tells you” (Jn. 2:5).

[1] First Apology, 13:5-6.

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